Ally Courtnall — From NCAA National Champion to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model

Samantha Peszek
3 min readSep 14, 2021

The I Have Cool Friends podcast, hosted by Samantha Peszek, is a show that sparks inspirational conversations with experts about business, wellness, and personal development.


In today’s episode, Sam is talking to fellow UCLA Bruin, Ally Courtnall. A two-sport athlete and National Champion, Ally decided to pursue her dream of modeling upon graduation. After four attempts, she finally landed her dream modeling job as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model. Tenacious and persistent don’t even begin to describe it! Sam and Ally have a great conversation about Ally’s journey, her passion for mental health advocacy and how she prioritized her own mental health amidst the struggles and obstacles she faced. Ally speaks to the powerful platform she has as a SI Swimsuit Model and how seriously she takes her responsibility to use that platform for good. Finally, Sam and Ally share some of their own best practices for promoting mental health.


  • How two sport athlete and aspiring model Ally Courtnall achieved her dream of becoming a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model
  • The cut-throat world of modeling and how it impacted her mental health
  • Working out as a muscular woman
  • Booking modeling jobs consistently and applying to Sports Illustrated four times
  • Ally’s rap video
  • Mental health advocacy
  • What being an SI Swimsuit Model means to her
  • Best practices and routines for mental health
  • Dealing with the trolls
  • What’s next for Ally
  • Sam thanks Ally for joining the show and let’s listeners know where they can follow her


“I was really fortunate enough to find people along the way that believed in me just because of who I was and my story.”

“I’m really enjoying working out and what it makes me look like. I feel my most confident self now because I’m not working out to be skinnier or lose weight. I’m just working out because it makes me happy and I actually enjoy what I’m doing.”

“The pieces started to come together during the pandemic. I started reading more self-help book and working on my mental health. There was so much growth that happened within that year, I’m so glad I didn’t get [the Sports Illustrated job] the three years prior because it was my best self going into it this year.”

“Now that I’m here and I’ve learned more about Sports Illustrated and their values, my whole viewpoint has truly expanded. This is really a community and a platform that you can use to contribute your message to and also have a wider platform and range of people to communicate that to.”

“I truly believe in trusting your timing and just always believing in yourself. And, for me, that was just surrounding myself with books and podcasts and people who bring good energy, uplift me and keep me on that path of success.”


Ally’s LinkedIn

Ally’s Instagram

Ally’s Sports Illustrated Profile


Sam’s Business

I Have Cool Friends Website

I Have Cool Friends Instagram

I Have Cool Friends Facebook

I Have Cool Friends YouTube Channel

Samantha Peszek

Olympic Medalist & NCAA Champion. ❤️ IN // LA Co-creator of the @thegympire